As a poet, historian, critic, translator and editor of The New Republic, Malcolm Cowley was a genuine literary polymath, which is why it’s not surprising that he wrote eloquent letters. In one, for example, he described Larry McMurtry, who Cowley taught when McMurtry was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as a “wild young man from Texas, expert in pornography.” In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews The Long Voyage, a new collection of Cowley’s letters.
Bill Clinton, at 65, has become the Blurber-in-Chief, an activist health convert who has enthusiastically endorsed three diet books: Eddie Shapes Up by Ed Koch, Think and Grow Thin by weight-loss coach Charles D’Angelo, and The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now, a new book by Dr. Mark Hyman. No more “Fat Elvis” jokes for Bill.
John Cage–renowned composer, music theorist, writer, artist, and Zen enthusiast–is a a veritable treasure trove of Curiosities. Here’s a video from 1973 of Cage performing his most famous piece, 4’33”, in Harvard Square. It’s hard for even the man himself to top the genius of this inspired performance, however.
Though no big name today, early 20th-century poet Florence Ripley Mastin published prolifically in her lifetime – a dozen times in Poetry, more than 90 in the New York Times. Poetry’s Ruth Graham argues that the successes of Mastin, an untrained amateur, say more about her times than her talent. These days, amateur poets today benefit from refrigerator poetry sets, numerous poetry apps and sites, and the infinite community of the internet, but the Times has long excised poetry from its pages. In the archives, Patrick Wensink meets and analyzes those who doggedly pursue poetry these faded days.